By Foday Moriba Conteh

In commemorating the International Literacy Day 2021 on the theme:  “Literacy for a Human-Centered Recovery”, the Community Action to Restore Lives (CARL) has on Wednesday 8th September, 2021 urged the Government of Sierra Leone to regulate private schools in the country. This disclosure was made during a press conference held at their Head Office on White Street at Brookfields in Freetown.

Giving the purpose of the gathering, Programme Manager of Community Action to Restore Lives (CARL), Aruna P.S. Larkoh, said that the event is staged to commemorate the International Literacy Day 2021 on the theme: “Literacy for a Human-Centered Recovery” in order to join other global bodies to discuss gains and challenges in the education sector, adding that the day is celebrated on  the 8th September every year and that it was declared by UNESCO on the 26th October 1966 at the 14th session of United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) general conference.

He said that they are using the day to submerge their ongoing Education Campaign Spike, which is principally looking at the rights to qualitative public education for all children in the country and calling on the regulation of private schools, which according to them when not regulated widens inequalities in the education sector.

Aruna P.S. Larkoh maintained that the inequality research conducted unearthed a lot of educational inequalities which captured private school education and domestic financing on private school as one of the forms of inequalities in education.

He added that the Education Campaign Spike makes provision for issues like the high fees in private schools, quality education, domestic financing, quality in fees and other related issues to be addressed, stating that the campaign makes it an obligation for Government schools to be prioritized and private schools to be accessible to all with affordable school fees with the fact that they are supported by the Government of Sierra Leone.

The Programme Manager further informed the gathering that an open letter has been written and signed by a consortium addressed to the Minister of Basic and Secondary Education on partners’ stance for Government to regulate private schools.

He ended by saying that OXFAM and its partners within the consortium on Education Campaign Spike are calling on the Government to use public aid money to support free public education in the country.

The Honourable Member of Parliament for Constituency 098, Dominic Tshombe, said that the International Literacy Day 2021 is very important and that the theme:  “Literacy for a Human-Centered Recovery” is very apt.

He said that as Government human capital development is one of their priorities he said that in the current financial setup the Government allocated 22 percent of its budget to education.

Dominic Tshombe said that there are a lot of challenges faced by Government schools ranging from lack of infrastructure which includes furniture, lack of professional teachers etc. which, he said, Government is working tirelessly to address those issues.

He assured CARL and partners of Government’s support and reaffirmed their commitment towards the development of the education sector in the country.

In his closing statement, Founder/Chief Executive Director of Community Action to Restore Lives (CARL), Madiana Nyanda Samba, commended His Excellency, President Julius Maada Bio, for putting premium on human capital development especially the introduction of the Free Quality Education Initiative for pupils.

She said that education is a public good and should not be left in the hands of the private sector for profit making, discrimination and deepens inequalities, adding that education is a right for every child including girls.

She also used the opportunity to call on the Government to use public aid money to support the Free Quality Education Initiative in the country.

Madiana Nyanda Samba noted that in order to increase revenue in order to support education in the country Government should allocate 2 percent of all GST to education and 1 percent of mining revenue to support education, noting that education should also be made affordable for children living with disabilities.

She used the opportunity to call on Members of Parliament to ensure, during the review of the Education Act, the issue of the regulation of private schools.

Courtesy of Calabash 10 September 2021

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